Workers rallied Friday outside a Ralphs store in Hollywood where 21 people have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The group called on the store to take more aggressive action when staff test positive for the virus, and to ramp up efforts to protect the grocery store employees, who are considered essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic.
They said they speak for thousands of workers who are afraid they aren’t getting enough protection as the virus continues to spread countywide, infecting more than 24,000 as of Friday.
The Ralphs at 7257 W. Sunset Blvd. has had an outbreak involving several workers who tested positive for the virus, according to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, which lists businesses and facilities with known cases.
It’s the largest known virus cluster at a grocery store in the county.
Earlier last month, workers at a Ralphs store in Koreatown who said they were afraid for their safety gathered to demand more protective gear from the supermarket chain.
Ralphs at the time told KTLA in a statement that the chain is working to increase their supply of personal protective equipment.
“We are working diligently to secure masks for our 18,000 associates,” the chain said, adding that the chain is also proving employees with gloves and sanitizer as well as installing plexiglass partitions at all checkout lanes.
As the coronavirus first began to spread throughout the state and stringent stay-at-home orders took effect, shoppers flooded grocery stores to stock up on supplies.
Crowded stores with long lines and grocery carts filled to the brim became synonymous with the early start of the pandemic in California.
And while others hunkered down at home to protect from infection, grocery store employees kept going to work.
Many chains like Walmart, Costco, Target and others have since implemented changes, limiting the number of people in stores, requiring facial coverings, installing plexiglass partitions and spacing customers 6 feet apart.
And in Los Angeles County, all essential businesses were told to provide masks for their workers, while customers were also instructed to wear facial coverings while visiting the businesses.